Kinda Scary: Scientists Grow a Human Brain in a Petri Dish

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Reported By: Britt L

The last amazing thing we’ve heard come from a petri dish is a baby. However, recent research has shown that technology has become so advanced, that actual brains are being created in these small plastic dishes.  In the science journal Nature, at the institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, biologists have grown a human brain using stem cells and a petri dish.

Although the real life image resembles a grown brain, the brain isn’t exactly a full brain. It’s actually an accumulation of 3D sections of tissue that resemble the brain of a 9-week-old fetus. The collection of 3D sections together measure 3 to 4 millimeters in size.

Despite the brain not resembling the size of an actual brain, the model has distinct regions of the regular brain such as the dorsal cortex, an immature retina and ventral forebrain.  According to Popular Science, “The parts are correctly organized, but not put together.”

The experiment study coordinator, Juergen Knoblich, described the underdeveloped brain as “a car where you have an engine, you have the wheels — but the engine is on the roof…that car would never drive, but you could still take that care and analyze how an engine works.”

The researchers from Vienna performed the daring experiment in an attempt to use lab-grown brains to study mental illnesses, such as autism and schizophrenia.

“Animal brains are too dissimilar on many types of neurological diseases,” exclaimed the researchers.

According to Popular Science, the Viennese researchers have created something much more complex than a liver or a heart. The under developed brain is the most intricate of all vitro creations to date.  It does leave one to wonder if a brain in a petri dish can ever have consciousness and self-awareness, like the rest of us.  How would you feel about being born in a petri dish?  We’ll leave that conversation to the philosophers.





  1. Is there any chance they could grow some brains for the people in Washington to use?

  2. This is scary.

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